Collaborative eye care pilot could help save the sight of some of Australia’s most vulnerable

The Australian College of Optometry (ACO) has joined the Optometry Australia (OA) call for optometrists and ophthalmologists to come together for a pilot aimed at combatting alarming treatment drop out rates that threaten patients’ sight.

The Australian College of Optometry (ACO) is lending it’s support to Optometry Australia’s call on the government to invest $1 million to pilot a collaborative care model between optometrists and ophthalmologists.  The ACO believe a collaborative approach will improve the access and equity of eye care to millions of Australians, reducing the risk of ‘drop out’ from routine intravitreal injections often caused by geographic isolation and the cost of specialist ophthalmologist care.


Optometry Australia report a significant drop out rate of up to 20% in intravitreal injection treatment due to non-adherence and non-persistence, increasing the risk of permanent vision loss.  The proposed pilot would see locally-based optometrists support the provision of ophthalmology-led care of patients with sight threatening, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macula oedema across two locations, including a remote Indigenous community.


Pete Haydon, CEO of the ACO, said, “As an organisation, the ACO already has experience of a successful partnership between optometrists and ophthalmologists. For the past six years, we’ve worked with the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital’s Glaucoma Collaborative Care clinic to alleviate pressure on in-demand ophthalmologists and, most importantly, ensuring access and equity for patients in a timely manner.”


Rodney Hodge, ACO President said, “As the demand for public eye care continues to rise, we must ensure that the optometry profession adapts to meet the needs of the community. Gaps in competence and knowledge can be overcome with the support of our ophthalmology colleagues and the development of appropriate training for the profession.  I am confident that we can rise to meet those challenges and provide the clinical care required to make a collaborative care model effective for all involved.”


As a leading provider of the Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS) in Victoria, the ACO is also supporting Optometry Australia’s call for investment of $18.1 million into the scheme over 5 years.


Haydon commented, “The ACO have first-hand experience delivering care through the VOS and we know that the scheme is an integral part of closing the gap in eye care for First Nations People.  Further funding is certainly needed to better support these communities and we look forward to reaching more people who need our help.”

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